By Kathy Gates
It turns out your mother was right after all -- Happiness really does begin at home, with the things and the people you are surrounded by. Your vision is one of the first messengers to send signals to your brain as to how it feels. Therefore, it follows that keeping your home happier will have a direct impact on how you feel.
What do you see in your home --Clutter? Chaos? Angry faces?
What do you hear -- Loud voices; bad music?
What do you feel when you look around your home? Stress?
Unhappiness? Frustration? UGGGGG!
What if instead you could feel and "see" opportunity and optimism? Energy and enthusiasm? Ok, maybe that's going a little too far, after all it IS just the living room.
Try these ways to let your environment help make you happier.
1. Subtract the Ugg factor
Chances are if you're like most people these days, you are fighting tooth and nail just trying to keep up with your life. Getting organized will help you win the fight. Look for the ugg factors in each of your spaces (desk, office, living room, bedroom, garage). Start with the White Elephant, the first thing that makes you go UGG when you walk into the space. Fix it, clean it, organize it, get rid of it. Whatever.
2. Up the color factor
Color is the accessory to our lives. Without it, while functional, it can be pretty plain. And scientists have long knows the effects that color can have on moods. Red and Yellows and Oranges inspire and stimulate. Blues and Greens are calming and restorative. Colors can also elicit memories, like "hospital green", or "college purple". In my family, we had a color called "Dad's blue shirt". Look at the colors around you. If paint is not an option check your accessories. Glue some inexpensive colorful beads or buttons to terra cotta pots to use as bright catch-alls for the bathroom, the desk, the kitchen table. Buy colorful frames for pictures. Wear a colorful top. When I wear red, I smile all day.
3. Don't forget the smile factor
The smile factor is truly personal. I have a screensaver of my 2 puppies in a funny position. I grin every time I see it, no matter how stressed, no matter how irritated I am at my internet cable provider. Take inventory of your space, one piece at a time. Ask yourself, is it useful? Is it beautiful to me? Does it make me smile? Or does it make me remember how much my mother-in-law criticizes me?
4. Function is always a factor!
Check the function of your space. Take a look around -- is your home functioning in a way that supports what you want and how you want to feel? If the room is for working and reading, low lights will make you uncomfortable and unhappy. Functionality is increased when a multi-purpose -- or multi person -- room is divided into zones so that more than one purpose or person can use it effectively. Use your creativity. Even the ubiquitous storage must-haves can be more than merely functional. With a little planning and thought, they can add visual interest and style to a room.
The steps to happiness begin with what you are surrounded by most of the time. Use positive psychology, positive messages, and positive images to feed your brain positive feelings. If you put these ideas to work, your home really can help keep you happy.
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